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Durham gay pride event previews spirited marriage debate

Posted September 24, 2011
Updated September 25, 2011

— The annual North Carolina Gay Pride Celebration in Durham Saturday had a slightly different tone this year – there was music and a parade, yes, but there was also a sense of urgency as the state's LGBT community prepares for a spirited fight ahead of the May primary.

On the ballot in May is a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would make marriage between one man and one woman the only domestic legal union recognized in North Carolina.

"We're all free, we're all human. It's about love. Love is love," said Susan Donahoo, who opposes the amendment.

Event participants posed for photographs with duct tape over their mouths and carried signs shouting "Be Heard" to protest laws passed across the nation outlawing same-sex marriage that they say have silenced gay and lesbian people.

"We have to work really hard to defeat this," said John David Overton, who represents Come Out 4 Equality, a new grassroots organization that joined other same-sex marriage supporters in pitching tents on Duke University's campus to rally opposition to the amendment.

Supporters of the amendment were also there, and attendees got a glimpse of the passionate debate over same-sex marriage that lies before them.

Pride event in Durham 2011 Gay pride events draws marriage amendment opponents, supporters

"We intend to keep the rhetoric positive. This is about marriage, the protection of marriage," said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director for the North Carolina Values Coalition. "We expect a groundswell of support from people across the state because the polls tell us that people care very deeply about protecting marriage from being redefined."

Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of North Carolina Policy Watch, worries that the debate could turn ugly.

"I think, unfortunately, there will be a number of opportunities for demeaning speech," he said. "I think we've had, generally, a deserved reputation as a progressive southern state and I think that's at stake here."

Fitzsimon said his group will be watching the policy debate closely in the coming months.

"We're going to actually vote and have a majority decide the rights of a minority in North Carolina," he said. "That's not what the Constitution is for."


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  • jakegoad Sep 26, 2011

    Thousands of people turned out to celebrate diversity and love, and somehow WRAL turns this into a false equivalency politics story by seeking out some “values coalition” representative in an office somewhere that had nothing to do with this event. I’m usually a fan of WRAL, but I’m a little disappointed here.

  • mmtlash Sep 26, 2011

    It seems a bit twisted that the majority will be voting on the rights of the minority....I mean that's worked out so well for minorities in the south in the past right?

  • Mon Account Sep 26, 2011

    sillywabbitthepatriot - "When practicing polygamists, first cousins, brothers and sisters who want to be married come forward and demand the same rights, what reason will you have to deny them the same rights?"

    Before you react to the ignorance-based fear other people have pushed at you please realize that's it's legal for first cousins to marry in this state. Seems they beat the gays to the punch!

  • corgimom06 Sep 26, 2011

    bloodysnitch-when in the past say, 25 years has that law actually been enforced?

  • working for deadbeats Sep 26, 2011

    They would have no problem with this being on the ballot if it was a sure victory. Then it would be ok, but right now it's not ok. Looking forward to this vote.

  • ICTrue Sep 26, 2011

    I'm ready too...I guess we'll just have to see what the majority has to say about it.

  • dwntwnboy Sep 26, 2011

    Wonder if the granny without weight would say such things about her own grandchildren? Does she say the same thing about the St Patrick's day parade? That's a flaunting of str8s in the streets- remember, they don't and won't allow gays in their parades, just the drunks, pedophile priests and wife beaters- classy all the way!!

  • dwntwnboy Sep 26, 2011

    "When you parade your immoral sin in downtown public, then YOU MAKE IT MY BUSINESS."- until we have the equality guaranteed to us by the Constitution, you will continue to see us put it in your face and on parade. It's about respect and equality and just as the blacks and women had to "parade" down the streets to get theirs, we are going to do the same to get ours. It's all very simple.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Sep 26, 2011

    "Two consenting adults"

    "all men are created equal"

    When practicing polygamists, first cousins, brothers and sisters who want to be married come forward and demand the same rights, what reason will you have to deny them the same rights?

    Marriage was defined in order to ban polygamy. Eventually, we will open up this can of worms as mentioned above.

  • lauraleigh Sep 26, 2011

    Anyone remember how ugly things got in the California Prop 8 vote? Radical gays targeted opponents of gay marriage, damaging property and beating up individuals. We're in for it here, so be ready to defend yourself and your property -